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Algeria promises non-party leadership

Algerian Prime Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali said Sunday he is still working to form a non-party government dedicated to preparing for fair general elections. It will be ready within the next few days, he said in a 10-minute speech on Algerian television. He made no mention of a quick presidential election.

Islamic militants, whose demands plunged the country into violence, said Friday that authorities had agreed both elections would be held this year.

After three days of violence last week, Algeria's President Chadli Benjedid imposed a nationwide state of siege, postponed from June 27 what would have been the North African country's first multiparty general elections and ousted the government of Prime Minister Mouloud Hamrouche.

Ghozali, appointed after the old government was dismissed, promised his administration would be formed by "independent personalities" free from political party influence.

The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), whose strike hardened into demonstrations in which it said 20 people were killed, claimed victory over the weekend and said elections this year for both parliament and president had been agreed on.

The FIS ordered strikers back to work Saturday. Its leader, Abassi Madani, later warned: "If the authorities go back on their pledge, we will return to the streets."